BEL Generator burns

by Lydia Chuc

At approximately 10:15 p.m. on Tuesday, August 12th, 1997, residents of San Pedro groaned in frustration as a blackout affected the island. A containerized generator caught fire at the San Pedro Power Station. According to a preliminary investigation carried out by the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), a severe lube oil leak developed caused by a ruptured bolt from the lube oil filter housing. The spray of oil reached the exhaust and caused the oil to ignite; fire engulfed a containerized generator situated at the entrance of the main building. One eye witness, Vince Eiley, said that he was walking past the power plant going north when he heard the loud explosion and saw flames engulf the container. "Everyone was here really quick. The fire truck was right next door and the police were here right after the first bang." Volunteer fire fighters, police officers, special constables and BEL personnel worked quickly and as best as they could to contain and extinguish the fire. Crowds rushed to the scene - bursting with curiosity - they pushed closer and closer to the entrance of the compound. Police officers and special constables did an excellent job of keep the crowd away and out of danger. Fire fighters tired earnestly to extinguish the blazing and exploding container, but, the water seemed to do nothing to the determined flames. Spectators standing 100 feet away could feel the heat of the fire. Residents in San Pablo could see the flames and hear the explosions. At about 10:25 p.m. the fire truck ran out of water and fire fighters rushed to the lagoon edge. A BEL employee on duty at the time, fought the flames with a fire extinguisher. Fire fighters fought the flames by using water from the lagoon and at about 10:39 p.m. the fire seemed to be extinguished. As the electrified crowd drew closer to get a glimpse of the burned container it burst into flames again. Fire fighters finally smothered the last of the flames at about 10:55 p.m. Before 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, August 14th, San Pedro Town had electricity. BEL issued the following press release latter Wednesday morning.

Press Release - BEL - Wednesday, August 13th, 1997.
On the 12th of August 1997, Tuesday night, the alert actions of BEL's plant operators and the quick response of the San Pedro Fire Department helped to contain a fire which broke out on BEL's mobile power unit stationed at San Pedro. The fire began around 10:00 p.m. when a lube oil filter on the power unit ruptured, spraying oil on the engine exhaust. The operator on duty immediately shut off all fuel supplies to the unit and attacked the fire using the fire extinguishers at the plant. The Fire Department also responded quickly and by 11:00 p.m. the fire was completely extinguished. At one point several explosions were heard when the rubber tires of the mobile power unit burst, but none of the diesel fuel tanks were in danger and the damage was confined to one containerized mobile power unit which is located outside the power station building. Power was completely restored to all customers by 12:25 a.m.

The damaged power unit was a backup unit located outside the power station. Although the plant still has ample capacity to meet the San Pedro demand without the backup unit, a replacement is being sent from Belize City and should be on-line within the next 24 hours.

Belize Electricity Limited thanks all members of the public and especially the Fire Department, its volunteers, the police, the Town Board, Emerald Waters and Eddie Halliday Sr. who all willingly assisted in the emergency.

BEL apologizes to its customers and the general public for the inconvenience caused.

San Pedro Sun

Front Page of This Issue

Previous Issues

Copyright 1996, San Pedro Sun. Design by Casado Internet Group

San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, Belize News